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City council sends edible THC issue to Public Safety Advisory Committee

Hastings will consider regulating, licensing sales

By John McLoone

What should the City of Hastings do about nowlegal edible cannabinoids?

The state passed a law earlier this summer allowing lowTHC edibles for sale to adults in Minnesota, with many lawmakers believing it to be a first step toward broad marijuana legalization in the future.

The new law allows adults 21 years and older to possess and consume the cannabinoid edibles that contain up to five milligrams of THC per serving, with a maximum of 50 milligrams THC per package.

Hastings City Attorney Korine Land referred to the THC edibles that are legal now as “marijuana 3.2,” in reference to lower alcohol beer allowed to be sold in gas stations in Minnesota.

The Hastings City Council voted last Monday night, Aug. 1, to send the edible

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The City of Hastings will seek to regulate the sale of edible cannabinoids. The City Council sent the issue to the Public Safety Advisory Committee last week. Photo by Bruce Karnick cannabinoid issue to the city’s citizencomprised Public Safety Advisory Committee to discuss restrictions that will be put on the sale of the product in the city. The vote was 43 to enlist that committee help, with those opposed expressing the opinion that the timeliness of the issue should have dictated that the policy discussion should be initiated at the city council’s Public Safety Committee.

The Public Safety Advisory Committee is comprised of Bryon Ascherman, Theresa Auge, Victoria Baukol, Melissa Blackstad, Delores Pemble, Jesse Starkson and Gary Stevens.

Wietecha said the edible THC product is available for sale now in many communities, and some are enacting ordinances or moratoriums on sales of it.

“A number of our neighboring cities are looking at various means that they might regulate such sales, some of it through zoning, some of it through licensing. Some of our neighboring cities are taking a wait and see approach,” said Wietecha. “Others are saying this is legal and should be allowed. It’s a matter for city council. Are you interested in some sort of regulation here in Hastings or at least interested in looking at it?”

Land said she’s been following the issue closely.

“I’ve been tracking all of the marijuana legislation since 2014,” she said. “I knew this is where we’d land. I didn’t know it would be marijuana 3.2, but that’s where we are. That was a sneaky move by the legislature. And yes, that’s an editorial message. Here we are stuck with a law that has no regulations around it.”

Land will put together a memo for the city on things that should be considered in looking at the issue.

Councilmembers all agreed the matter needs to be reviewed and policies put in place.

“Do we want to treat it like a tobacco license, or alcohol license? It is an intoxicating substance. I would be in favor of us licensing it to some degree,” said Tina Folch.

She also advocated looking to see if the city could derive any revenue from sale of the product.

“That’s something we should be looking at, if there was a license fee,” she said. “Money could be used to support the police department since it will fall upon them for having to do enforcement.”

She said the League of Minnesota Cities is also looking into whether cities could put a tax on the sale of the THC products.

Folch also pointed out that as THC products become legal and as nearby states legalize sale of marijuana in other forms, the city may have to look at its employment requirements.

“When we do drug testing, would we want to exclude marijuana from being a preemployment screening device for nonDOT related positions? That’s something we should be looking at since there are so many places marijuana is legal.” Trevor Lund brought up sending it to the Public Safety Advisory Commission.

“Would this be a good use of our Public Safety Commission to do a first pass of discussion? It probably would be a great opportunity for that group to be involved,” he said.

Said Lori Braucks, “I think this is a good process Councilmember Lund has suggested. The Public Safety Advisory Committee is looking for things to do like this.”

Mark Vaughan agreed. “I support the commission. I think that’s the best place to put it. We get some true community feedback on this,” he said. “I’m a little disappointed we have a state law that comes down and what’s the regulation? It seems like we’re chasing this. It makes us look absolutely horrible. For us to talk about putting a tax on someone or something. They’re selling a legal product that’s already approved. I hope the commission takes that into consideration. “

Jen Fox expressed the opinion that the matter should start with the city council’s Public Safety Committee.

“We are the body that works on policy and creates policy,” she said. “I think we need to get our hooks into it maybe first, committee not commission.”

Lisa Leifeld agreed. “I would have to vote against this particular motion. I think it should go there (the commission), but I do believe there should be a conversation with council committee first,” she said.

“I do know the states (where marijuana is legal) make an awful lot of money on this. The way it’s set up right now, what are the communities getting? Are we getting anything additional? That’s the conversation that needs to be had,” said Leifeld. “We need to meet as a committee to corral it a bit. Let’s figure out which direction do we want to go? Let’s get down the things she’s (Attorney Land) seeing other communities doing. Let’s make money. Let’s make sure we can control it. Let’s make sure we’re doing all the things we need to do to make sure our community is safe.”

August 10, 2022